Premier William Lai (賴清德) yesterday reiterated that the government’s stance on defending the dignity of former “comfort women” has not changed.
Lai made the remarks during a question-and-answer session at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei, in response to a question from Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Alex Fai (費鴻泰).
When Lai took office in September last year, Fai asked him what he intended to do to defend the dignity of former comfort women — women forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II.
Lai said that he would ask Representative to Japan Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) to demand an apology from the Japanese government.
Asked yesterday by Fai what action Hsieh has taken since then, Lai said that Hsieh has made known the government’s stern stance on the issue to the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Hsieh told a meeting of the legislature’s Foreign and National Defense Committee that he had conveyed the government’s stance on the issue to Tokyo six times, Fai said.
He asked the Executive Yuan to deliver a report on Hsieh’s correspondence with Tokyo regarding the issue to his office within a week, to which Lai agreed.
When Japanese engineer Yoichi Hatta’s statue in Tainan was beheaded last year, Lai, who was then Tainan mayor, put together an investigation team and wrote a letter to Japanese officials to account for the incident, Fai said.
He asked whether Lai would also write a letter to Japanese officials to give an account of an incident involving Japan-based Alliance for Truth About Comfort Women member Mitsuhiko Fujii allegedly kicking a statue of a comfort woman next to the KMT’s Tainan chapter office this month.
Lai said he did not address the letter to the Japanese government, but to Hatta’s family members, who have attended annual ceremonies held in his memory in Taiwan.
Fai asked the premier if he would write a letter to Fujii to demand that he apologize to surviving comfort women, to which Lai said Fujii’s alleged actions were his “personal behavior.”
In questioning on another issue, New Power Party Executive Chairman Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) said that the heavy flooding in southern Taiwan last month was due to construction work on flood retention pools lagging seriously behind schedule.
The Comprehensive Drainage Basin Management Project, initiated by the former KMT administration, is to conclude next year, but 25 of the 32 proposed water retention pools overseen by the Water Resources Agency are still under construction, translating into a progress of just 21.8 percent, Huang said.
Of those, work on 17 pools has yet to commence, he added.
In Chiayi County, which was hit the hardest by flooding and where 13 pools had been planned, only one has been completed, he said.
Minister of Economic Affairs Shen Jong-chin (沈榮津) told Huang that the lack of progress was partly attributable to local governments not allocating enough land for the pools.
Huang accused the Water Resources Agency of approving retention pool projects and paying out construction fees to contractors, even though there is not enough space to build them.
Lai said the problem requires a strict review by the ministries of economic affairs and the interior, from which he would demand a report detailing the cause of the delay and ways to remedy it.
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